Wednesday 18 October 2017

Department of Education officials discuss transgender students and their future in Irish schools

Minister for Education Jan O'Sullivan
Minister for Education Jan O'Sullivan
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Issues such as what uniform to wear and school choice for transgender pupils are the focus of discussions taking place in the Department of Education today.

A round table discussion is covering issues such as bullying, uniform and  entry into or continuation in a single sex school as part of a move to strengthen supports for transgender pupils.

The event involves education partners, such as school managers and teacher unions, and organisations working with young transgender people.

It was organised by Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan and is being hosted by Community and Social Support Minister Kevin Humphreys,

Ms O ’Sullivan said young transgender people were a particularly vulnerable group and required appropriate support in all situations, including in schools.

“The policies, practices and climate in schools can support and nurture young transgender students so that they do not feel isolated and alone,” she said.

She said there were many areas that required discussion on this matter such as bullying, uniform issues, entry into or continuation in a single sex school  and the discussion would  trigger a conversation amongst all of those involved in education.

“Many of these issues will need to be figured out at school levels,” the minister said.

“I hope that the discussion today will build on the compulsory anti-bullying procedures which have been put in place in all schools, and which explicitly require that schools tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying,” she said.

Organisations attending the talks include BeLonG To Youth Services, the Children’s Rights Alliance, Transgender Equality Network Ireland, and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

Each of these bodies has been involved in advocating for the rights of young transgender people, and will provide the education partners with concrete examples of how supports can be built into the school system.

Mr Humphreys said  gender recognition legislation provided the legal framework for people who wished to have their preferred gender choice recognised, but there was a  need to build on it to ensure that schools were welcoming and supportive.

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